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Posts Tagged ‘perseverance’

Chilean president Sebastián Piñera holds up a message from the trapped miners. (photo: Hector Retamal/AP)

Have you been following the 33 miners trapped in a mine in Chile.  Well, yesterday after 17 days trapped 4.5 miles inside the winding mine, rescuers received a note written in red paint that all 33 were alive!  VIVA CHILE!  That is awesome.  Now the challenge.  It will take up to four months to get them out…but they are able to send some supplies down to them.  Read more about this here.

This is the same shot I took the yesterday but at night (photo: Reed)

Back here in the US, I was on my third day in Manassas when I decided to go to the historic downtown and find my recipient of the day.  I had gone to dinner down in Springfield with some old work colleagues and then drove back and stopped downtown.  It’s a charming quaint looking place where you see the same police car driving around the town a couple of times during the same evening (either that or they were suspicious of the “guy from out of town walking around giving money away and taking pictures.”)  The flag lined streets are nestled with small shops, restaurants, bars, a hotel and even a barber shop.  It’s in front of the Royal Cuts Barber Shop on Center Street that I found Alex and Breanna sitting on a bench.

I am not sure how well they knew each other.  At first I figured they were a couple, but then it turned out that they were just friends, or maybe even acquaintances, who had attended the same high school.

Alex and Breanna chilling in front of Royal Cuts Barber Shop (photo: Reed)

I asked them what someone should see or do in Manassas and they said that they really didn’t have a good answer.  “There’s not much to do here except go around town and look at the plaques,” they said referring to the historical markers that are peppered around the city center.  Alex said to check out a place called Tommy’s.  “It’s pretty good and they got some pool tables,” he added.  I looked them up later on the internet and it seems to be an interesting place.  They describe the atmosphere as a “sports bar” that is also “family friendly” and welcomes cowboy hats! 

I asked them what they liked to do and they both said they enjoyed writing.  “I have a freakish imagination,” Alex says.  “I write short stories, sci-fi and fantasy but it’s not very good.”  Breanna says she also likes to write and is equally self-deprecating of her talent.  Alex also admitted to a severe music addiction saying that he likes all kinds of music, “80s, 90s up to today.”

We chat some more and before too long before a friend of Breanna’s who just got off work stopped by.  I’m going to take the liberty to change his name and call him Mike…I think you will understand once I explain more. Anyway, I had asked Alex and Breanna to share with me something interesting or funny about them so when Mike arrived I thought better yet, I’ll ask Mike to give me some funny story about the two.  Mike thinks for a second and then says, “Ok, well, I guess I could share this with you but it’s pretty embarrassing.”  Mike proceeds to tell me a story that had nothing to do with Alex and Breanna at all.  It was story about him that had to do with masturbation! 

I was looking at Breanna and Alex and they were looking at me and none of us knew quite what to say.  “I don’t think he understood your question,” Breanna said.  Yeah, I’d say that was a safe assumption.

Anyway, it was a bit awkward for a minute or two and then Breanna left with Mike and I stayed behind with Alex. 

Intersection of Main and Center Streets at night (photo: Reed)

I’m glad I decided to hang out a little longer and chat with Alex because he shared his own personal struggle getting a job.  That meant a lot to me given my own 285 day search for employment that I had gone through since being laid off last year. Alex didn’t graduate when he should have because he failed a civics class.  It started off ok but then the teacher had a stroke and they had a slew of substitute teachers in and out of the classroom and he just didn’t do well and ended up failing.  Until he finished the class and got his diploma it was really hard to find a job that would pay anything decent. 

Alex found himself graduating as the country slipped into a depression.  The job market turned south and he was left knocking on doors, literally.  “I walked door to door at one point looking for a job,” he told me.  I asked him if he could share the story on video and he agreed.  His heartfelt story shows how determination on a rainy day can lead to opportunity. Anyone who has thought about giving up on finding a job should watch this!

So, what the heck happened to the $10, right!  Well, I asked Alex what he was going to do with the money and we realized that Breanna had ended up with the money!  Somehow I must have missed that when she left.  Perhaps I was distracted by the masturbation story.  Anyway, I have emailed Breanna and hope to get an update on the $10 soon.

We said goodbye and I walked through the streets of Manassas passed dozens of dark storefronts until I arrived at my car.  I went back and took Sweetie for a walk before going to bed.

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If you are in Washington, DC, join me today at the Shakespeare Theatre Family Fun Fair from 10:00-2:00 downtown near the Verizon Center.  It should be a fun event for the whole family.

photo: Reed

I was recently dog-sitting in Manassas, VA for my friends Tressa and Tom.  It was nice to have a new community for a few days to share the Year of Giving with.  On my first day there I headed over to Costco to get some items that I needed.  As I was leaving I saw a man sitting with his child.  I asked him to be my 234th recipient but he preferred not to participate.  His name was Jeremy.

I then headed over to the Giant grocery store on Sudley Rd and picked up another couple items to have on hand for my weekend “getaway” in Manassas.  I was still looking for someone else but just didn’t seem to see the right person.  About a block away from the Giant there was a Family Dollar store.  I drove over there and saw a woman coming out of the store.

I parked quickly and ran over to Angela who was now loading her purchases into the car.  She was very friendly and open to talking with me.  We talked for about thirty minutes and I have thought about her and her story every day since.

Angela has overcome many challenges in life (photo: Reed)

Angela is a 35-year-old single mother of five kids!  The oldest is 17 and the youngest is seven.  Unfortunately she doesn’t have custody of the children right now because the father (they are separated) had nearby family that would be able to help raise the children.  Angela’s closest family members are in West Virginia.  She works two full-time jobs right now as a certified nursing assistant in order to be able to support herself and make payments to help with childcare of her children.  “I have been working as a CNA for 14 years now,” She says.  “I like what I do; it’s like taking care of family.”

As we talked more I discovered that just how difficult of a time it was for Angela when she and her husband separated.  It set off a series of events.  She got depressed and ended up losing her job and later her home.  “I slept in my car for a total of six months to get back to living in an apartment,” she told me.

Angela shared this very emotional moment with me in this video clip.  It’s heartbreaking to see and hear her describe such a difficult time in her life.

Angela has her own apartment now and wants to go back to school to get her nursing degree.  She also wants custody of her children.  “It’s really hard,” she admits.  I think it’s important that Angela pursue her nursing degree so that she can have a more stable financial situation, work fewer hours and have a more active role in the lives of her children.  The challenge with that is to be able to juggle nursing school while still working enough to make ends meet.  If you or anyone you know is a career counselor at a school that might be able to speak with Angela and give her some guidance on how to successfully manage all that, please contact me so that I can put you in touch with her.

As I said earlier I think about my conversation with Angela every day.  Meeting her and learning about her story really touched my heart.  It’s people like Angela that I meet that make going out and giving my $10 away every day worth it.

Angela in front of the car that she lived in for six months (photo: Reed)

She was tired and had worked all week.  Angela told me that she was going to run in to the Aldi supermarket and get some groceries with my $10.  I gave her a hug and walked back to my car and just sat there for a while thinking about how difficult it must have been to lose her husband, her children, her job, her house and live in her car.

Her determination and perseverance remind me of a quote by Harriet Beecher Stowe, “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” 

Angela’s tide is turning.

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